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Facing C1 C2 surgery any info would help

RudyRRudy Posts: 3
edited 06/11/2012 - 8:48 AM in Spinal Stenosis
Hi everyone,

I'm new to this and I'm writing this on behalf of my 81 year old dad who has been told by the ns that he needs to have a laminectomy to C1 and have it fused to C2, not sure what to expect. He now has a burning, tingling sensation in his neck, shoulders and wrists. The first ns wanted to place a metal plate at the base of his skull do the laminectomy on C1 and put screws in C2 and possibly C3 and C4 depending on what he found. At that note got a second opinion and decided to go with having only C1 and C2 fused. He is very nervous as to what to expect coming out of surgery, from what we have read it sounds like its an awful surgery. He's very physically active and in good health. Any information would be helpful.

Thank you,


  • Hiya Rudy, welcome to the site. Sorry your Pa is in need of surgery, he sure has a great child in looking out for his best interest and researching.

    I can tell you of my experice post op. I had a double fusion done on a lower area of neck, C5-6 and 6-7, they put donor bone where the disc once was and a plate to hold it, with 6 screws.

    As for the recovery, the incicion, done in front of neck healed fast with not problem.

    Problem with drinking, needed bendy straws and soft food, feels like there is a ball in your throat for a few weeks, very scary if you don't know that is normal. Need soft food, and throat losengers were a great help.

    Reclyer is where I lived for first few weeks, as it was hard getting in and out of bed, using arms to push self up. Had soft collar to use for a few weeks, then only when I felt I needed it or to go out, just so ppl wouldn't bang in to me.

    Recovery from surgery was ok, but my thryroid was injured, therefore I was so tired for a few months till it was dianosed.

    I am not sure if your Pa's level is done the same way with plate and screws, but good to ask doc all your questions.

    I wish for him a successful surgery outcome, and quick healing.
  • I had surgery on C1 and C2 and it was not a pleasant experience. I was not fused, but had laminectomy performed on both to allow access to the C2 dorsal root ganglion as well as relieve some pressure. It was done with a posterior approach (through the back of the neck) and it was far more difficult to recover from than the multiple posterior surgeries on my lower back. I was 46 at the time and in decent shape since I worked out on a regular basis.

    If I were to need to go through it again, of course I would, but I just want to share, that it was not an easy thing to manage.

    One of the thing to consider with surgery at this level, is that the patient is generally placed in something like Mayfield pins to fixate the head so that it does not move during surgery. You can run those through any search engine and it will show you an illustration.

    I wound up spending several weeks in the hospital and then it was several weeks after that before I even felt as if I was beginning to make progress towards recovery.

    Just out of curiosity, are either of the surgeons used to operating on people in their later years? Have they given your dad a realistic picture of what the recovery may be like? Have they encouraged a third opinion? What are the reasons for recommending the fusion other than just the laminectomy for stenosis? I hope your dad is asking a ton of questions.

    I am not trying to discourage you or paint a bleak picture, but I wanted to share my experience with surgery at that level. I am just quite surprised that such a surgery would be recommend for someone your dad's age, unless there were some concerns other than just addressing the pain.

    Kindest Regards

  • Does your dad have rheumatoid arthritis? C1 and 2 are usually affected by this illness.

    My 89 year old FIL recently fractured C3 and 4. Due to the stenosis and arthritic condition of his neck, surgery was too high of a risk at his age. Was your dad given the option of wearing a collar as conservative treatment instead? Major surgery and a long recovery are so difficult on the elderly.

    As "C" states, I don't want to paint a bleak picture, but do hope your dad asks many questions.

    Best wishes,

  • Thank you all for your comments, me dad does not have a choice at this point, his surgeron feels that given his physical health and activity level that after surgery he will not be wearing any brace and that the surgeon is going to have him move his neck. We were told that he will be in the hospital for about 2 days. He knows that it won't be easy. My dad does have arthritis in C1. Their hoping that after they stablize his neck that his arthritis will receed back. He's going in Dec 9th and I'll keep you all informed as to his progress.

    Hope you all have a wonderful Thanksgiving.

  • Well, C1C2 fusion surgery is a bad experience. Wouldn’t wish it on anyone. My c1c2 were literally not attached to one another. No other option, freaky childhood injury that never healed. So at 35yrs old I had it fixed.
    Where I am today: DEEP TISSUE massage got a lot of my rotation back, from a very experienced therapist, has done wonders for my rotation. I teach Zumba fitness, and I am a personal trainer with a BS degree in Health Promotion and Wellness, so overall, normal life.
    However, I just threw out my T1, expected collapsing, I have 4 screws holding my c1c2 together, I am wondering if anyone else is way out from a fusion of c1c2, no offense but it truly is a lot different than c2c3,and further down the vertebrae. So any info on pain management, other surgeries from c1c2 collapsing would be helpful. Just to know what is possibly coming. There are not many c1c2 surgeries that have walking eating and functioning persons, so I do feel blessed, I had a great surgeon.

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